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Pioneer Editorial: Pelosi trip undermines foreign policy

There's no doubt now that Democrats have wrested control of both chambers of Congress, they want to make an immediate impact on public policy. As part of the fall campaign, one of those key maneuvers is to turn the direction of the United States'...

There's no doubt now that Democrats have wrested control of both chambers of Congress, they want to make an immediate impact on public policy. As part of the fall campaign, one of those key maneuvers is to turn the direction of the United States' role in Iraq.

To that end, House and Senate Democrats, when they return from their Easter/Passover break, will need to negotiate supplemental appropriations bills that include emergency funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan but which also include timetables for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. That issue remains debatable, as President Bush maintains such measures interfere with his constitutional role as commander in chief of this nation's armed forces. They are measures that he plans to veto.

A more serious matter, we believe, is that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's foreign trip this week which include visits with heads of state of major Arab nations. Her tour included Syria, a nation which remains on the United States' list of terror nations which receive sanctioned treatment officially from the United States.

The California Democrat's meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad were major news in state-run newspapers, with one stating the visit as "Welcome Dialogue." A visit by such a person of power in the U.S. government -- third in line of succession to the presidency -- can send the wrong message of where U.S. policy stands. President Bush said the move could lead the Assad government "to believe they're part of the mainstream of the international community when, in fact, they're a state sponsor of terror."

Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview with ABC News, was even more blunt, noting that Assad has "been isolated and cut off because of his bad behavior, and the unfortunate thing about the speaker's visit is it sort of breaks down that barrier."

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The U.S. Constitution clearly delegates to the president the power to make treaties with foreign nations, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The House by the Constitution is left out of the process. The framers envisioned that the conduct of diplomacy is an executive function, with a check by a supermajority of the chamber of Congress where power is proportionately equal among the states.

It is clear that congressional Democrats differ philosophically in the direction they believe the United States should be heading in foreign policy, but that does not mean they should undertake their own diplomatic mission which undercuts the administration.

Presenting a such confusing picture of what may or may not be viewed by the world community as the United States' official foreign policy invites a constitutional crisis as well as allowing U.S. foreign policy to be misinterpreted, leaving our citizens abroad at risk.

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